Paula Hawkins has something to smile about. Her novel, The Girl on the Train, will top this week's New York Times bestseller list. That's quite a feat for any author, let alone an unknown: This is the first time that a debut novel* has made the #1 spot in its first week on sale since Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian was published in 2005. According to the publishers, Riverhead, more than 300,000 copies are in print, and the book is being sold at unconventional retail outlets, including Urban Outfitters.
We weren't surprised to hear that the unexpected twists and turns of The Girl on the Train got readers buzzing—they definitely had our editors intrigued. In her BookPage interview, Hawkins talked about the difficulty of surprising readers with twists that still manage to function as an "ah-ha" moment.
“It’s all about feeding tiny pieces of information, but hopefully keeping them slightly ambivalent. You have to have different people see different things in different ways, and hold back particular pieces of information,” she explains.
Hawkins is hard at work on another book, although it is quite likely that touring for The Girl on the Train will be keeping her busy for the next several weeks—she'll be appearing at Nashville's own Parnassus Books on February 8.
Have you picked up The Girl on the Train yet?
*Hawkins has published other novels under a pseudonym—we're betting they are on the way to the printers as we speak.
So, Gone Girl (or The Goldfinch, or Wild) was a hit with your book club, and you're looking for more books like it. Our Read it Next posts are here to help! Click on the jacket of your latest great read to find suggestions that will make you a star at your next meeting:
Everyone's favorite self-deprecating lad-lit author returns next February* with his first novel since 2009's Juliet, Naked. Nick Hornby's Funny Girl (Riverhead) is something of a departure for the author: It's set in the swinging '60s, making it his first historical novel.
Sophie Straw is a beauty queen from Blackpool who heads to the big city of London and becomes a TV comedy sensation. The story goes behind the scenes of her hit sitcom, where writers Tony and Bill, director Dennis and Sophie's male co-star, Clive, are enjoying the success—until some of the scripts start to bear too much of a resemblence to real life. Will fact and fiction's collision sink the show's stars?
During an early reading from the book in England, Hornby said that the novel is an "attempt to re-write history and create a British Lucille Ball." But Hornby knows a little something about screenwriting as well as sitcoms: He adapted Cheryl Strayed's Wild for film, and his novel About a Boy is now the basis for an NBC sitcom. These real-life chops should provide plenty of fodder for Funny Girl. Will you read it?
*in the U.S., at least—the book will be released in Britain on November 6. The cover shown is the British cover.
RELATED CONTENT: Read our 2005 interview with Nick Hornby about A Long Way Down.
It's been a long wait for fans of The Passage, but The Twelve is finally here. And for you Cronin fans, we have not just a review for you (don't worry, there are zero spoilers), but also a handwritten "Meet the Author" Q&A from Cronin himself.
The personable author (I had the pleasure of interviewing him in 2010) did a series of videos for Waterstones about The Twelve—here's his introduction of the book.
Are you excited about The Twelve?
We're just a month out from the publication of J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, on September 27. Little, Brown has been keeping details about the novel, other than the official description, top secret—sources say that only a select few have had time with the embargoed manuscript, and all cell phones and recording devices must be left outside the door.
That's not unusual for a big title (although it's less common for fiction), but the lack of pre-pub hype from the publisher is. As USA Today reports, there's been little to no push on this one—no promo materials, no midnight release parties—and stores are having a hard time figuring out how to get the word out, or what to tell their customers when asked about the book. The head buyer at R.J. Julia Booksellers is quoted as saying, "We had no posters … It hasn't been easy. People are curious, but they don't know what to expect."
The article goes on to say that the lack of a dramatic publicity onslaught is likely due to Rowling's own wishes, since rumor has it the world's best-selling author would prefer that her first adult novel stand on its own merit and not on her reputation. But a successful transition to adult fiction after becoming known as a YA author is a tricky one. Other YA authors who've made the jump in the last few years include Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars series), who released her first adult novel last year to little fanfare, and Ann Brashares, whose 2010 adult time-travel romance was the first in what looks like a stillborn series.
But perhaps the best comparison for a writer like Rowling is Stephenie Meyer, who moved to adult fiction after publishing the Twilight series. Her sci-fi novel The Host wasn't a big jump from the teen fantasy she is known for, yet it still sold just 2 million copies in hardcover (yes, an impressive figure, but the fourth Twilight novel, by comparison, sold 1.3 million copies on its first day of sale!). She has yet to publish the promised sequel, although perhaps that will be announced when the film version of The Host is released in March 2013.
The Casual Vacancy couldn't sound more different from the Harry Potter series, and although some people are sure to buy based on the Rowling name, its level of success will depend on the word-of-mouth response from readers. Stay tuned for our review on September 28!
Do you plan to read The Casual Vacancy?
Yesterday, we announced Jodi Picoult's Lone Wolf as #1 on your list of top 20 books of 2012 (so far!). So, it's pretty much a given that a lot of our readers love Picoult and are eager to hear about her next novel.
Last week, Picoult shared her "rules for life" on Oprah.com. Not only does the author offer practical advice ("When you see a bathroom, stop. Because you never know when there is going to be another one.")—she also drops a big hint about her next project. Here's the scoop:
For me, there really is a big difference between forgiveness and acceptance. If you forgive someone, you aren't necessarily saying that what the person did was right. What you're saying is, "I'm not giving you the power to make me a victim. I'm not going to let you invade my mind and make me hate you."
Forgiveness is not for the other person. It's for yourself. That's the way I see it. Whereas acceptance is really more of a caving in, as far as I'm concerned. It's saying, "What you did, I'm okay with."
My book in 2013 is going to be all about this. The novel is about this young woman at a grief group who befriends an old man in her small town who is everyone's favorite grandpa. He's the Little League coach and a teacher, and he's been a fixture in the community for years, but he confides in her that he used to be a Nazi, and he'd like her to forgive him and then help him die.
For more on Picoult's current novel, Lone Wolf, read a review on BookPage.com or read an essay she wrote for us about her research; she visited a man who spent a year living with wolves in the Rockies.
Our post about the sequel to The Passage, The Twelve, is among the most viewed posts here on The Book Case. So the minute we heard that The Twelve has a pub date, we had to pass the news on to you!
Random House has the book listed in their online catalog with an on-sale date of August 28, 2012. This far out there's always a chance the date will move,* but it's a safe bet that we will be continuing the story of Amy, Peter and the gang (and resolving that terrible cliffhanger!) this fall, just like Cronin promised. I for one can't wait—how about you?
p.s. If you want to get the full scoop on our most anticipated 2012 releases, sign up for BookPageXTRA. The January 17 issue will include our 2012 forecast of hot fiction and nonfiction titles.
Related content: Read our interview with Justin Cronin.
* Oh, my prophetic soul: As of April 2012, the release date has been changed to October 16, 2012.
I don't know about you all, but I am pretty darn excited about the long weekend. What are you planning to read? I already mentioned that I'm diving into The Foreigners . . .
Here are some favorite links of the week:
Sometimes I think I'm done reading the New York Times Book Review, but at least once a month they come up with something that gets my attention. Like Kakutani reviewing Candace Bushnell in the voice of Elle Woods, or (more recently) Dwight Garner's hilarious takedown of Timothy Ferriss' The 4-Hour Body.
This week's most intriguing item: assigning Karen Russell's Swamplandia! to Emma Donoghue (spoiler: she likes it). Russell was our lead interview for February, as Emma Donoghue was back in October, and though at first the two novelists and their works seem to have little else in common, they've both managed to create believable young characters living in extreme situations.
In a separate interview for the Arts Beat blog, Donoghue gave Jennifer McDonald an update on her current projects. In addition to "putting the finishing touches" on a Room screenplay, she's completed a book of short stories about migration and is working on a novel "about a murder among lowlifes in 1870s San Francisco. It will feature cross-dressing, the sex trade and motherhood, which are all topics that I’ve touched on before, and that continue to fascinate me."
With dozens of bestsellers under his belt, it wouldn't be surprising if author Dean Koontz took some time off to rest on his laurels. But the indomitable author, who believes that writing talent must be used, instead continues to craft an alarming number of bestsellers, fiction and nonfiction alike (his stories about his dog, Trixie, have been optioned for a family comedy).
His latest story, What the Night Knows, published today, is billed as "a ghost story like no other." We asked Koontz a few questions about writing and got some surprising answers. Click over to the Q&A to find out which literary character he'd like to spend time on a desert island with, why he never talks about a work-in-progress, and more.
Any Koontz fans out there excited about this new book?